Wandy Rodriguez Rumors

NL East Notes: Braves, Olivera, Rodriguez, Moore, Uggla

Despite carrying low expectations from the outside, the Braves have had good energy in camp, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who attributes it to a combination of the team’s acquisition of several intense and/or vocal veterans along with the presence of competition all over the roster.

Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NL East:

  • The Braves are “still in [the] race” to land Hector Olivera, tweets O’Brien, who adds that the team is unlikely to offer more than five guaranteed years. Of course, a recent report indicated that Olivera might not yet have received a six-year offer, so if Atlanta is willing to move its bid up to the five-year range it could presumably have a shot.
  • Meanwhile, the Braves have settled on Wandy Rodriguez for one of their final rotation spots, O’Brien tweets. Atlanta will hope for an Aaron Harang-like rebound from Rodriguez, who inked a minor league deal with the Braves after his agreement fell apart with Harang’s new club, the Phillies, over a failed physical. Rodriguez has looked good this spring, and currently owns a twelve-inning scoreless streak.
  • The Nationals are open to dealing out of options outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore, but see him as a quality big leaguer who has a place in the team’s immediate plans, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The 28-year-old may be needed to start the year given the club’s injuries in the outfield, and would probably be the next man up at first base were Ryan Zimmerman to suffer an injury.
  • Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla has had a fairly productive spring thus far as he looks to keep his career alive. As MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports, manager Matt Williams sees a legitimate possibility of Uggla impacting the club this year. “We haven’t defined any roles,” said Williams. “What we do know at this point is that he is seeing the ball well and he is playing well. I like his at-bats. … We haven’t defined those roles yet because we just don’t know.” As Williams went on to note, infielders Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon have been limited by injuries in camp.

Rosenthal On Rockies, Drew, Padres, Braves

Other teams asked Major League Baseball about the Rockies‘ decision to add John Axford to their roster so early in the spring, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Axford signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies in early February, but the team added him to its roster March 1, effectively turning a minor-league deal into a big-league one. To clear space on their roster, they moved Tyler Chatwood to the 60-day DL, a move they were not allowed to make in the offseason. The idea is that the team might have effectively agreed to a big-league deal with Axford but signed him to a minor-league deal purely to manipulate its roster. The Rockies, of course, could plausibly claim that they were impressed by Axford early in the spring and wanted to roster him so that he couldn’t exercise his out clause later in the month, perhaps making the decision early as a vote of confidence in Axford and in their team. Here are more highlights from Rosenthal’s latest notes column.

  • Scouts have doubts about Stephen Drew as the Yankees‘ second baseman, Rosenthal writes. The Yankees signed Drew for $5MM in the offseason with the idea that he would provide veteran stability in the middle infield, given that they’re going with youngster Didi Gregorius at shortstop and their backup plans at second, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder, are also inexperienced.
  • The Padres are reportedly among the teams most interested in Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, but Rosenthal reports that they are unlikely to pay more than the $70MM Olivera expects to get.
  • Teams interested in starting pitching depth could turn to the Braves‘ collection of minor-league signees, including Eric Stults, Chien-Ming Wang and Wandy Rodriguez. Stults can opt out of his deal April 3, while Wang can opt out July 1. Whether Rodriguez has an out, and when, is unknown.

Wandy Rodriguez To Sign With Braves After Failing Physical With Phillies

Veteran lefty Wandy Rodriguez has failed his physical with the Phillies and instead agreed to a minor league deal with the Braves. Hector Gomez of Listin Diario first tweeted that a deal with Atlanta was close, with Marino Pepen tweeting news of the failed physical and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constution confirming that a deal was done (via Twitter).

Rodriguez will have a chance to earn the fifth starter’s role in Atlanta. If he does make the club, he’ll earn a $2MM salary, per a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It appeared that Rodriguez was ticketed for a similar situation in Philadelphia, but he will instead aim to throw for a division rival.

The Braves struck gold last year with veteran Aaron Harang, and will hope for the same in 2015. Harang, of course, is headed to Philadelphia, taking one of the rotation spots that Rodriguez may have been a candidate for.

Of course, it is far from a sure thing that Rodriguez will open the year with a big league job. Soon to turn 36, Rodriguez has struggled with injury and made only 18 largely unsuccessful starts over the past two seasons. On the other hand, he owns a track record of sturdy innings, with 1,471 career frames of 4.06 ERA pitching.

Phillies Notes: Outfield, Pitching

The big story of the day is the trade of Marlon Byrd. We learned earlier this evening about reactions and the Reds side of the story. Here’s more on how the Phillies will adapt to life post-Byrd:

Phillies Sign Wandy Rodriguez To Minor League Deal

The Phillies have signed left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league deal, reports CSNPhilly.com. Dominican sport commentator Santana Martinez was the first to report the signing (via Twitter). The move is pending a physical. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman confirms (Twitter link) that the deal is not yet finalized. Presumably, Rodriguez will be invited to spring training to compete for a rotation spot, although that detail is not specifically mentioned in the report.

Rodriguez, 36 in January, has struggled with injuries in recent seasons. He lost much of 2013 to a forearm strain. The Pirates designated him for assignment last May after he was sidelined with knee inflammation. Over the past two seasons, he managed just 18 starts including 6.75 ERA over six starts in 2014.

His career numbers are substantially better. In 1,471 career innings, the southpaw has a 4.06 ERA, 7.40 K/9, and 3.05 BB/9. He’s also re-established his health while pitching in the Dominican Winter League. His best seasons came with the Astros, although his injury shortened 2013 campaign included a 3.59 ERA in 12 starts.

Once the signing is finalized, Rodriguez will likely compete for one of three open rotation jobs with the Phillies. Presently, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels front the rotation, although Lee is recovering from an elbow injury and Hamels is frequently linked to trade rumors. After the top duo, Jerome Williams, David Buchanan, Kevin Slowey, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Sean O’Sullivan, and Jonathan Pettibone are part of a wide open field for the remaining jobs. Presumably, Williams and Buchanan are penciled in to the third and fourth spots.


Quick Hits: Halsey, Kuroda, Wandy, Everth, Asche

MLBTR would like to send its deepest condolences to the friends and family of former Major League left-hander Brad Halsey, who died tragically in a climbing accident near his Texas home, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Halsey, just 33, spent three seasons in the Majors with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and A’s from 2004-06. He was one of three players traded from the Yankees to Arizona to acquire the legendary Randy Johnson.

As we keep the family and loved ones of Brad in our thoughts, here are a few notes from around the game…

  • Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he wants to return for the 2015 season, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. At this point, Kuroda is weighing one more season in the Majors, one more season in Nippon Professional Baseball or retirement.
  • Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has recovered from knee surgery and will pitch in a winter league this year as he gears up for a comeback, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rodriguez, who turns 36 in January, pitched just 26 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season before being released. He underwent knee surgery roughly a month later and said at the time that he had received some interest from other clubs. However, he preferred to correct a lingering issue in his knee that had been hindering him, in an effort to be as best-prepared as possible for the 2015 season.
  • The Associated Press reports that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera was charged with resisting arrest after police stopped him for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. While DUI charges are not planned, according to the report, Cabrera was cited for possession of marijuana in the car and could face up to a year in jail if convicted of a misdemeanor.
  • The Phillies have no plans to move Cody Asche off of third base at this time, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. While the idea of trying Asche in the outfield has been kicked around within the organization, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team decided at last week’s organizational meetings that Asche will remain at the hot corner. The plan next season is to platoon Asche and Maikel Franco if the team cannot move Ryan Howard this offseason. It seems that at some point, Asche or Franco will have to move off the position, but Amaro told Zolecki the team views both as third basemen right now. “Maikel Franco is a third baseman who plays some first base,” said Amaro.

Wandy Rodriguez Undergoes Season-Ending Knee Surgery

After being released by the Pirates, starter Wandy Rodriguez has undergone surgery on his right knee, according to a report from Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Spanish language link). Rodriguez will miss the rest of the season but hopes to be ready to return next spring.

The 35-year-old lefty drew interest from several clubs after being shown the door by Pittsburgh, he told Rojas. But he decided instead to work on getting healthy for next year. Of course, there was limited upside to returning to the hill this year, especially at less than full capacity. The Pirates and Astros were (and are) on the hook together for $13MM ($5.5MM still being paid by Houston), so Rodriguez was not going to increase his earnings.

Rodriguez tossed 205 2/3 innings of 3.76 ERA ball in 2012, and worked to a 3.59 mark in 62 2/3 frames over an injury-shortened 2013. After exercising a player option for 2014, though, Rodriguez was neither healthy nor productive. He managed only 26 2/3 innings, allowing 20 earned runs in the process. Nevertheless, given his prior track record as a useful innings-eater, Rodriguez should draw interest if he can show that his knee and left arm are healthy come spring.

Pirates Place Wandy Rodriguez On Release Waivers

MAY 30: The Pirates have placed Rodriguez on unconditional release waivers, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter).

MAY 22: The Pirates announced that they have re-instated Russell Martin from the 15-day disabled list and designated left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for assignment.

The DFA marks a somewhat surprising end to what has been an injury-riddled Pirates tenure for Rodriguez. Acquired from the Astros in 2012 (in exchange for Colton Cain, Rudy Owens and Robbie Grossman), Rodriguez totaled just 164 1/3 innings in parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh.

Rodriguez was healthy and effective for the Bucs after the acquisition in 2012, pitching to a 3.72 ERA in 75 innings. However, a forearm strain limited him to just 62 2/3 innings last season, and right knee inflammation cost him three weeks earlier this season. Still, with the exception of 2014, the veteran southpaw has pitched well when healthy.

This season, he’s registered a 6.75 ERA with a 20-to-8 K/BB ratio and a whopping 10 homers in 26 2/3 innings. Never one to throw particularly hard, Rodriguez’s average fastball velocity is a career-worst 88.3 mph this season. Still, given his $13MM salary ($5.5MM of which is being paid by Houston) and the fact that the Pirates have previously bought low on pitchers with potentially fluky homer-to-flyball ratios (A.J. Burnett, Mark Melancon and, to a lesser extent, Francisco Liriano), it’s a bit surprising that Rodriguez was the odd man out.

Pittsburgh will have 10 days to trade, outright or release Rodriguez, though his salary and recent injury problems make it highly unlikely that someone would claim him on waivers. A trade is unlikely for the same reason, unless the Pirates were to kick in some cash. Rodriguez is earning $13MM in 2014 — $5.5MM of which is being covered by the Astros. In other words, with more than a quarter of the season gone, Pittsburgh is eating roughly $5.33MM worth of salary, which is a sizable chunk of its $72MM Opening Day payroll.

Wandy Rodriguez Exercises Player Option

Wandy Rodriguez has informed the Pirates that he has exercised his $13MM player option for the 2014 season, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.

Rodriguez's decision was an expected one, as the soon-to-be 35-year-old pitched just 62 2/3 innings for the Pirates in 2013 as a result of an injury to his left (throwing) forearm. Rodriguez wouldn't have been able to approach this type of money as a free agent, so he will instead look to bounce back as a member of a Pirates rotation that will also include Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. The Pirates want to bring A.J. Burnett back into the fold, but they have Jeff Locke as an internal replacement, should Burnett decide to retire.

Rodriguez was effective in his limited 2013 sample, posting a 3.59 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 1.7 BB/8 and a 42.3 percent ground-ball rate. He was originally acquired by the Pirates in a 2012 trade that sent Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens and Colton Cain to the Astros.

Central Notes: Grimm, Rodriguez, McDonald

Since picking up Justin Grimm from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, the Cubs have liked what they've seen from him in a relief role, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Pitching coach Chris Bosio explains that the club is "presenting different roles for him," and Gonzales says that Grimm could stay in the pen going into spring training. On to more links from the AL and NL Central…

  • The Pirates have shut down Wandy Rodriguez because of persistent pain and discomfort in his left forearm, according to a statement from GM Neal Huntington. The move will provide more time for the flexor tendon in Rodriguez's forearm to heal and sets him up to be ready for Opening Day 2014, Huntington said.
  • Rodriguez says he hasn't considered whether he'll trigger his $13MM player option for next year, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. However, it's unlikely that he doesn't do so, Biertempfel says. The Pirates are on the hook for $7.5MM of the option.
  • The Twins don't plan to sign James McDonald, who elected free agency today after being outrighted to Triple-A by the Pirates, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com says. Minnesota will re-evaluate McDonald and take a look at his medicals over the offseason, however.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.